BAKU (RFE/RL) — Azerbaijani authorities have finally allowed representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit an Armenian man who was detained by them after crossing into Azerbaijan on July 15.
The Azerbaijani military claimed to have captured the 34-year-old Karen Ghazarian while thwarting an Armenian incursion into Azerbaijani territory.
The Armenian Defense Ministry flatly denied the alleged incursion attempt, insisting that Ghazarian is a civilian resident of Berdavan, a village in the northern Tavush province located just a few kilometers from the Azerbaijani border. It said he has a history of mental disease.
The Armenian authorities have repeatedly called for Ghazarian’s release. They have also asked the ICRC to visit him in custody.
“Last night representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited Karen Ghazarian,” the wife of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Anna Hakobian, announced on Friday. “He was safe and sound.”
“They passed on to Karen a letter from his mother,” Hakobian wrote on Facebook. “Karen said, for his part, that all is normal with him.”
According to the Armenpress news agency, the ICRC office in Yerevan confirmed the information.
The Azerbaijani authorities have so far given no indications that they are ready to free Ghazarian soon.
At least two Armenian nationals are known to be currently held captive in Azerbaijan.
One of them, Zaven Karapetian, was captured in June 2014, with Baku similarly claiming to have thwarted an Armenian incursion. Yerevan dismissed that version of events, saying that Karapetian is a civilian resident in Vanadzor, an Armenian city around 130 kilometers from the border section which he crossed for still unknown reasons.
Three residents of other Tavush villages strayed into Azerbaijan in 2014. Two of them were branded Armenian “saboteurs” by the authorities in Baku and died shortly afterwards.